The link between diet and well-being, or ‘mood and food’ is becoming more and more prevalent. What is interesting is that we are starting to better understand the complex relationship between what we eat, our digestive health, and how we feel. What is also exciting is that recent research has demonstrated certain foods in combination have shown to improve mental health symptoms.
A very important study was conducted in 2017 known as the SMILES TRIAL whereby researchers compared the effects of social support (already known to improve depressive symptoms) to dietary improvement in a large group of participants with low mood. The people in the dietary improvement group made changes to what they ate over a 12-week period which was supervised by a clinical dietitian. These participants ate a modified Mediterranean diet.
The results were astounding. Individuals who were on the modified Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks experienced significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms compared to the group who were exposed to social support. Participants in the social support group also improved their depressive symptoms. This study highlights the benefits of a nutritionally sound diet to not only enhance health and well-being, but also help to manage specific mental health issues such as depression. Excitingly, we are only just scratching the surface with our current understanding on the effects of nutrition on mental health.
At Headway, we’ve pioneered significant change in the corporate psychology industry by adding other evidence-based allied health (in person, face to face) services such as dietetics, sleep, and exercise to the service offering, in addition to counselling and coaching. We believe in a holistic approach to the management of mental health issues with diet being an important component to a comprehensive treatment approach. We have an Accredited Practising Dietitian on our team who has expertise in the area of nutrition, gut health, weight management, gastrointestinal issues, chronic diseases and eating for health.